Robin

About Robin

Occasional painter. Golfer. Fascinated by humanity. Passionate about beautiful stuff, the people who create it and its narrative.

The Remastered Mini by David Brown

The Remastered Mini by David Brown 1

Today’s depressing BBC Brexit bafflegab-farce forces me to seek something positive. The Geneva Motor Show is, as ever, vast and glitzy. Aston-Martin rubs shoulders with Honda ; Bugatti with Skoda. There are custom cars, concept cars, electronic cars, driverless cars and even flying cars. Each alluringly lit stand is wo/manned by smiling – smart and knowledgable representatives. I cruise around seeking that single jewel; that stuff so beautiful that I have to talk about it. And there it is; the Mini Remastered. Albion’s little giant reborn, roaring and rearing to go. If this motorshow is some foreign field then the corner that is forever England is David Brown Automotive.

The Remastered Mini by David Brown 2

A surprising and rare wave of patriotic sentiment ignites an Austin Powered recall of the first car I ever drove together with images of Mr Bean and the voice of Michael Caine in The Italian Job “You Were Only Supposed To Blow The Bloody Doors Off!” I smile. Here at last is something uplifting from the land of hope and glory. This Brit’s day has just got frabjous.

The Remastered Mini by David Brown 3

These little chariots of fire are beautifully conceived and flawlessly finished. They are even more charming than Sir Alec Issigonis’ classic original. I love the fusion of the 1960s iconic image with contemporary design and build. However, they are not simply constructed in the spirit of the Mini. Each has a “donor” Mini – included in the final price – out of which are taken the engine and gear box; these are remastered so keeping the all-important chassis number. The rest of the vehicle is lovingly constructed around them.

The Remastered Mini by David Brown 4

The company emphasises the sculpted body-coloured wheel arch extensions; a flawlessly finished four-week hand- applied paint process; centrally-mounted exhaust outlets; handcrafted badges using traditional die-sinking enamel techniques; jewel-like LED rear light clusters and indicators framed by bespoke aluminium surrounds; chrome bullet-style door-mounted wing mirrors with integrated LED puddle lamps; a premium infotainment system, operated via a 7″ touchscreen interface as the centre piece of in-car connectivity; full-grain, British-sourced leather upholstery; elegant knurled aluminium gear stick and classic Mota-Lita® steering wheel. Cripes, Bunter! An arrow of desire might end up costing the pierced enthusiast 70,000 guineas! A Mini, a Mini! My kingdom for a Mini!

The Remastered Mini by David Brown 5

Keep calm and carry on! The Mini, as Jeeves observed of Shakespeare, gives universal satisfaction. I wander around the show. Nothing else spikes my interest in quite the same way. The Remastered Minis are victorious, happy and glorious. Cool Britannia! Twist and shout!

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The Geneva sun slopes down to rest now day is done. The Minis are tucked in for a well-earned rest. Their bed-time story is Peter Rabbit read by Mary Poppins. (Chuffin’ Nora! Get a grip, man!)

Lest we forget, the name’s Brown… David Brown. 

“And the EU negotiators, Ma’am?” A pause. Pursed lips. “Make it look like an accident, Double-O Seven!”


Photos by Bertrand Godfried and Isaac Griberg.

Discarded Hollywood Glamour

Neighbours moved away yesterday. They must have dropped a picture and left it on the street. Familiar faces catch my eye; one in particular always gets me thinking.

Discarded Hollywood Glamour 1

I separate the damp poster from its smashed frame and lay it on the pavement. The photo is at once charming and amusing; it was taken at the premier of “How to marry a millionaire” in 1953. I love the interactive snap-shot-moment of these three stars.

Discarded Hollywood Glamour 2

Lauren Bacall seems to be admiring – and tolerating with good humour – her husband, Humphrey Bogart, who is clearly admiring something else. I imagine that he has just wise-cracked something risqué to Marilyn about some juicy titbit that he has eaten and the need to wipe his fingers afterwards. And then of course, there’s Marilyn, the greatest female icon ever, just lapping up all the attention.

Everyone would know that smile. Not everyone would know of her courageous stand and work for women in the male-dominated Hollywood of the day. Few would know that after her death, investigators’ photos of her lying in her bed were published. Worse still, mortuary photos of her awaiting a post-mortem examination were likewise published. I know of no other celebrity whose person has suffered this particular violation of privacy nor been the subject of such a gross breach of medical ethics. I find it sad that such a bright star should die with such indignity.

The Lonely Planet at Terre Blanche

The Lonely Planet at Terre Blanche 1

Terre Blanche Golf Resort describes itself as a “Land of Inspiration in Provence.” In my mind, a reasonable claim. Even though it’s the French equivalent of Saint Andrews, I’m not only here for the golf. The club house and elegant surroundings are crammed with stylish contemporary sculpture. And big names too. However, despite the best efforts of the helpful staff, nobody can tell me the provenance of something that really captures my attention: a huge silver-steel-shiney orb sitting among some stunted oak trees that line the path down to the first tee. It is entirely out of place and all the more intriguing as a result.

The Lonely Planet at Terre Blanche 2

The object’s surface is covered with randomly spaced indentations of varying size; they are clearly meant to recall craters. It reminds of the first time I used a high powered telescope to look at the moon the surface of which is entirely covered by evidence of asteroid impacts. I read once about the “impact events” that have affected planet earth. Apparently, every 500,000 years an asteroid of more than 1km collides with earth; one of over 10 kilometres hits us every 20 million years (and extinguishes most life forms.) The reason that these craters are less obvious on earth as compared with the moon and other planets is simply because of water; many hit the sea and the signs of those that have had a terrestrial impact are slowly ground down by atmospheric erosion and plant life.

Fascinated, I wander around this lonely planet. I lay on a hand; the brilliant surface is smooth and very cold. On touching it with the tip of my nose, I detect a faint but definite metallic odour. I tap this beautiful sphere with my knuckles and am treated to a deep and distant resonant clang; it’s not a forest noise. Finding this sculpture here, completely discordant with it’s earthly surroundings, augments the other-worldly feel it gives out. Form and placement together result in an immensely satisfying piece of work. Does anyone know whose work it is? Or did it fall from the sky?

Ben Wilson: “Chewing Gum Man”

Chewing Gum Man 1

I have little left of my day in London. I hurry past the Black Friar pub and find the north end the pedestrian-only Millennium bridge. It is busy. Like everyone else, I am determined to get to the Tate Modern that beckons from the south side of the river. I want to see The Clock.

Chewing Gum Man 2

In the middle of the bridge there’s guy lying down next to an open tool box. His clothes are daubed with paint of every colour. I say hello. He’s very friendly. I ask his name. “Ben Wilson.” He replies with a broad smile. “But people call me ‘chewing gum man’!”

Chewing Gum Man 3

Ben is relaxed and chats to anyone who stops. He’s not obviously chewing gum. I ask him what he’s doing. It’s clear he’s been asked this a thousand times. “I’m painting the chewing gum!” I gawp. I look down around my feet and along the shiny aluminium walking surface. I see there are thousands of stuck-hard pieces of discarded chewing. The penny drops. Ben’s canvas is the chewing gum! “It’s a great day for painting.” he says. “It rained last night so the gum’s clean!”

Chewing Gum Man 4

Using acrylic and enamel paints he has created hundreds of beautiful little fantasy designs scattered along the full span of the bridge. They include humanoid, animaloid and all sorts of -oids. Each is unique and intriguing. Some bear the names of visitors. I crouch to take photos. People trip over me; Tate-goers are too polite to curse me. Ben cheers me on.

Chewing Gum Man 5

Ben is an exhibited painter and sculptor. This work, for which he is apparently well-known in London, was inspired by his distaste for any kind of rubbish on the streets. It is a truly imaginative initiative. However, he has generated controversy. Is this vandalism? He was once dragged down to the local police station for painting public property. Clever lawyers argued that he is not defacing private property but merely painting rubbish and therefore is breaking no law.

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Ben’s project requires an extraordinary dedication. It is as original and unexpected as it is opportunistic. I am totally uplifted. This has made my day. I skip down the steps to the Tate Modern where, I’m sure, the surface of the bridge will one day be exhibited.

Take a look at more of Bens work.

“The Clock” at Tate Modern

Christian Marclay’s The Clock, currently showing at the Tate Modern, is the only “work of art” that I could happily look at all day and night. It is a masterful concept, staggering in terms of the work involved and mesmerising. If you’re thinking of going, do not make an excuse. You have until 20th January 2019.

The Clock is a twenty-four hour video montage. Each of the 1,440 minutes is represented by a scene from film or television that features a clock, a watch or some other time-piece. Occasionally the time is spoken. “Oh, my God, it’s three o’clock!” Therefore, the work itself, when synchronised with real-time, functions as a clock with the time shown on-screen being the actual time. Brilliant! Just imagine searching for all those scenes! The only thing I’ve seen like it is Maarten Baas’s clock in Schiphol airport.

I walk in at 14:40. I am shown to a comfy armchair as Sean Connery glances knowingly at a wall clock that stands at twenty to three and through which he rightly figures he is being spied upon via a peep hole. He coolly hangs his jacket over the clock. Cut to the next scene as a grainy, black and white Harry Lloyd dangles helplessly from the big hand of a massive clock above a crowded New York street. It is nineteen minutes to three. Get the picture? Furthermore, all the clips are cleverly spliced and a musical sound track makes the scenes run together smoothly to the point that it is not always obvious when there is a change to a completely different film. I am enthralled.

I wish I had more time. On-line, I find that if I was fortunate enough to be able to watch The Clock in it’s entirety, I would notice the fast pace of the time-orientated action in the morning, the inevitable bell-ringing around High Noon and the ensuing scenes with a more relaxed tempo. The late afternoon sees commuters travelling by car, bus and train. Scenes from the early evening show people eating; later, they are drinking in bars. And then, of course, there’s the inevitable deadline: midnight. In the early hours of the morning, sleepers and dreamers become angry at being woken at an antisocial hour. Big Ben features regularly.

The Clock was completed in 2010 after more than three year’s work. There are only six copies in existence. Happily, the Tate Modern has got hold of one for our benefit and has dedicated a big enough space for a hundred people to lounge and immerse themselves in this chronometric history of cinema. There are even all night showings.

The Clock at Tate Modern

There is no single image that adequately represents this work; but I bought the t-shirt anyway. The time-codes represent the monumental task of researching and editing The Clock. They do not represent the genius. One day, I’ll watch the whole thing. Bravo, Christian Marclay!